Classic Car's First Engine Overhaul

Written by Mike Wilson on May 08, 2018

You’ve had your classic car for a while now and every year, she just keeps purring right along. We like to think it’s because of your timely and tender annual maintenance that you perform with the precision of a Swiss clock and the kind touch of a medical professional.

This year, though, the engine has decided that its time was up. Queue the sad trombone. As a result, you’ll have to perform your very first engine overhaul.

Conveniently, we’ve created a list of the top 5 things to do when planning an engine overhaul.

Budget Enough Money

Whether you decide to do the job yourself, or have it done by a professional, you’ll need to shell out a bit of cash for this procedure. Likely you’re going to need new (original) parts, which may run you a pretty penny depending on the make and model of your classic car. There’s going to be critical equipment as well, such as an engine hoist. (Note: They can be rented without too much hassle.)

Consequently, you may actually pay close to the same amount, or slightly more if you decide to have it done by a professional. So, evaluate the costs before you jump in. The plus side of having it done by a professional is that the work should be guaranteed.

Budget Enough Time

Often times, we underestimate the time required to do a job right. We also very often assume that everything will go as expected, which much to our detriment, rarely happens. So ensure that you plan the time needed to do the job, then perhaps consider padding that time by, oh, let’s say 1 and half times just to budget it (should problems arise).

One part of time management is preparing for the unexpected.

Know What You’re Getting Into

In no way do we want to discourage anyone from getting intimate with their classic’s inner workings. After all, the way in which classic cars are designed is just one of their appealing characteristics. Relying on mechanics, rather than computers, is an incredibly beautiful thing.

We only express caution because we’ve seen people biting off more than they can chew with respect to a restoration or repair job and we want to ensure no one is left staring blankly at the guts of their car, wondering what they’ve got themselves into.

Have the name of someone that can help out in case you get yourself into a little hot water.

Set Your Expectations

Despite putting the effort (or money) into performing an engine overhaul, we should have realistic expectations of what the results will be. We naively think that an overhaul will have our classic car running like it rolled off the lot.

So, the question is, will my car run like new? In short, likely not.

Your classic car is much more than just the engine. It’s the suspension, brakes, tires, the calibration of everything to have them work in harmony and much more. So, performing an engine overhaul, although fantastic and likely necessary at a point during your ownership, will not make the entire car run like new. It will, however, ensure that you have a well-running engine for years to come. And that’s not something to shake a stick at.

Research Your Engine Overhaul

They say that “no one plans to fail, but they do in fact fail to plan”.

When you’ve decided to move ahead with an engine overhaul, do some research. Look into what others have done with the same job on your make and model. They may give clues on what to be on the lookout for and perhaps offer insight to make the job go smoothly, like that 1 nut that is notoriously difficult to undo, or reach, unless you do x, y and z.

What’s more is that by researching the engine overhaul, you’ll open yourself up to loads of information, tips, new methods of getting the job done, new places to seek out hard-to-find parts and pieces and even find people you can reach out to for advice should you need it.

What Does All This Mean?

All these things can be summarized into one word: Preparation.

Prepare the engine overhaul to ensure that you’re not left with exorbitant costs, headaches and worse of all, an engine that just doesn’t work.


Happy overhaulin’

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